March 9, 2015
Jay Boolkin knew he’d have to get creative for his charity foundation to be noticed, and so he built it on the premise of a basic human desire: to achieve goals.
Promise or Pay encourages people to set themselves a goal – Boolkin says these range from weight loss to breaking a nail-biting habit, and everything in between – and ask for donations if they keep their promise. And if they don’t keep it? Well, that’s when the promise breaker has to pay up.
“The primary motivation of using the platform is not to donate to charity,” Boolkin says. “It’s to achieve a personal goal, and the charitable giving part of it becomes an incentive.”
It’s a formula based on the modern desire to share online, as well as behavioural science theories that sharing your goals with others increases your chance of achieving them. Boolkin says, “The power of Promise or Pay is that accountability, so by sharing it you’re making yourself more accountable and encouraging others to engage with you and with the social issue or cause you’ve chosen to give to, and with your personal journey.”
The next step is to build a community of like-minded people: “I want to create a self-improvement community of people that believe in social issues, but who also use those social issues to improve their wellbeing and lifestyle.”
Boolkin is also looking at ways he can create influencer partnerships, as Promise or Pay increases its creative marketing methods.
This is part of a new wave of organisations devising creative ways to seek funds and awareness amidst the 600,000 charities and not-for-profits registered with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC). These campaigns are becoming less about asking for donations, and more focused on creating an experience that benefits both parties.
But while it may sound counter-intuitive for a charity’s motivation to not be fundraising, it works. And, according to Peter Baines OAM, corporate social responsibility expert and author of Doing Good by Doing Good, this creativity is the way of not just the future but the present. “Charities need to view their relationship with their donors through a new lens and think about how to give them a good return,” he says. “Part of that (return on investment) is through shared experiences, and this is where I think real value exists.”
According to Baines, you shouldn’t be ashamed of asking “What’s in it for me?” when donating. It isn’t a selfish motivation; it probably means you want to learn and be involved with the cause in a more personal way. “People want to do more than the least they’re currently asked to do, which is donate money,” he says. “And it’s up to charities to show them another way.
“The fact that a charity is doing good and bringing about great change is, in my opinion, no longer enough.”
It seems a little creative tweaking can go a long way to increasing fundraising dollars and reach.
“I harness Promise or Pay in a way that people who use the platform are those who wouldn’t usually give to charity – and there’s great power in that,” says Boolkin. “That furthers the potential for new ways of fundraising.”